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Canada’s borders opened to international students on October 20, 2020, and this represents a huge recruitment opportunity for educators across the country.
Pre-pandemic popularity is a strong base
Before the pandemic, Canada was already highly competitive as one of the world’s top five English-language study destinations – popular among international students not only for the quality of education available here, but also for our welcoming post-study work rights, immigration policies, and reputation for safety. But this year saw the introduction of an unprecedented, highly influential new factor affecting student demand: whether a country was open or closed to international students. The answer changed by the month and even the week, as did student demand for study abroad in various countries.
Student searches for Canada have been relatively consistent through 2020
You can see just how volatile demand has been when you look at IDP Connect data tracking student searches through the year. What’s interesting to note in our graphic is that demand for Canada has not been as variable as it has been for the UK and Australia, possibly due to a more stable policy environment and lower COVID-19 infection rates relative to the UK and US.
The chart also shows that demand for Canada has risen at various points during the year in contrast to a much flatter demand line for the US.
What’s the implication?
Student searches for Canada peaked in late-September after a steady incline in the summer, likely because of the seasonal admissions cycle. But as you can see, the dip after that is less dramatic than in the UK and Australia, and this may be an effect of the October 20 borders opening announcement. As we speak, more and more international students are becoming aware that they can study in-person in Canada, and this awareness may be prompting a higher level of search activity than we see for other major destinations.
Provincial associations and educators can help spread the word by cycling the news regularly on their social media channels as well as in their email communications. Vast numbers of international students have deferred their start dates for study abroad in hopes that their patience will allow them to study in a destination country, on campus. And many others are indicating a willingness to switch destinations for a chance to experience in-person learning.
Canadian IDP Connect partner institutions should be using this moment to jump on our advanced search data to know which countries are the source of the greatest demand, and for which study levels and programs, so they can target outreach for maximum effect.
There’s no time like the present to leverage Canada’s open borders and refine marketing for the best chance of attracting the hundreds of thousands of prospective students currently deciding where they will study abroad next year.